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Doyle signs state budget

Gov. Jim Doyle signs Wisconsin’s budget bill into law Monday at his mansion in Madison.  The Daily Reporter Photo by Paul Snyder

Gov. Jim Doyle signs Wisconsin’s budget bill into law Monday at his mansion in Madison. The Daily Reporter Photo by Paul Snyder

Paul Snyder
paul.snyder@dailyreporter.com

Gov. Jim Doyle spent three days with the state Legislature’s proposed budget before putting away his veto pen and signing the bill into law Monday.

Doyle put his signature on a 2009-11 state budget that deletes more than 80 amendments added to the bill by the Joint Committee on Finance, state Assembly, state Senate and a special conference committee after the governor submitted his original budget proposal earlier this year.

The two-year budget settles some construction-related issues and sets the stage for continued debate over other topics.

Issue: Prohibiting county departments from performing construction work on any project using private money

Doyle’s action: The governor vetoed the committee’s proposal, arguing it was too broad.

What it means: County department crews can continue to work on any projects.

Reaction: Robb Kahl, executive director of the Construction Business Group, said he supports the veto.

Although the group, along with laborers’ unions and road building organizations, argues county governments unfairly take work from private firms, Kahl said, trying to push an agreement in the state budget was too difficult.

“It’s better to start fresh,” he said. “It got so whittled down in the amendments, we’re just going to work to put together a bill for this fall.”

Next step

Kahl said county highway commissioners will meet with unions and road builders in July to seek agreement on how to split road construction jobs between county departments and private firms. He said he wants an agreement by mid-August.

Issue

Applying an oil-franchise fee to oil companies doing business in Wisconsin. The fee, which would generate money for state transportation projects, would be based on a company’s annual receipts. The proposal would prevent companies from passing the fee on to consumers.

Critics argued the anti-pass-through provision would have led to lawsuits and could have cost the state millions of dollars in legal fees.

Doyle’s action: The governor accepted the Legislature’s dismissal of the fee.

What it means

The state will move money from the general budget into the transportation budget to pay for state road projects and other transportation work.

Next step

Doyle said he still believes his original proposal was strong.

“I’m going to continue to search for ways to make oil companies contribute without passing it on to the customers,” he said. “I still believe it needs to happen with the profits they’re making at a time of misery for everybody else.”

Issue: Creating regional transit authorities

Doyle’s action: Doyle vetoed an amendment to create a Milwaukee County Transit Authority, but kept the Southeastern RTA and its $18 vehicle rental fee, which will pay for the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee Commuter Link. But Doyle said he wants the Southeastern RTA to avoid full implementation of the fee.

Doyle said a Milwaukee County Transit Authority does not promote regional southeastern Wisconsin cooperation and could risk leaving the KRM project unfinished.

Doyle also vetoed a mandatory referendum for a Dane County RTA and an allowance for the Dane County RTA to use up to 25 percent of its money on road projects.

“There’s already a lot of money for spending on roads and bridges,” he said. “The county needs to stay focused on transit.”

Reaction

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said he supported the mandatory referendum and money for road projects in Dane County, but he said the vetoes are not the end of the world.

“We’re still committed to having a referendum, whether it’s in the budget or not,” he said. “Roads would have been a welcome addition to the RTA, but we’re still very excited by the RTA idea.”

Next step

Cieslewicz said the county could hold a referendum for a Dane County RTA in fall 2010.

Governor’s List of Budget Vetoes (PDF)

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